Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Last year, Scientific American published an in-depth article explaining just how we could power the entire country on solar. Granted it would be a huge investment, but it would work. It involves building huge collectors in the southwest and building a new transmission network to get the power where it's needed. One of the problems was how to make solar energy available at night, most storage techniques are untested, expensive, lossy, or all of the above. They propose storing heat in salt domes or something.
Two recent developments will alleviate most of these problems. First, researchers at MIT figured out an efficient way to use solar energy to directly separate water into hydrogen and oxygen. Traditional electrolysis zaps water with a current to pull the molecules apart. This takes far more energy than can be recouped by burning the hydrogen. The new method is much more efficient. Second, Australian researchers figured out how to make fuel cells without platinum. That should reduce the cost of pulling the energy back out of the hydrogen.
Storing energy as hydrogen may also help the transmission issue. I don't know the numbers, but it could be more efficient to build a hydrogen infrastructure rather than transmitting electricity directly.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
This would be very good for the town. The area has been suburbanized
over the last few decades and this could be a push back in the right
Thursday, August 7, 2008
This is not news to a lot of people, but the combined effects of
expensive gas, a weak economy, and increased environmental awareness
have started to put the squeeze on suburbs.
This doesn't mean that everyone is going to move into big cities, but
it does mean that future developments will look more like towns than
bizarre orchards of five bedroom ranches.
Much of the country developed backwards. Cities arose in isolation and
then people started flowing out to the burbs recently. Much of the
east coast, though, developed more slowly with many towns, a few of
which later swelled into major metropoli. The other towns remained and
were affected by suburbanization, but retained some character and
With luck, the current forces will reshape population distributions
into something more sustainable.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
It was pouring this morning, so we were the only folks out who weren't permanent staff. We were mentally prepared to spend a couple hours in the rain weeding or something, but there was plenty to do in the barn. We spent three hours clipping the dried leaves off of over 300 pounds of garlic. We didn't get wet, but we got a few blisters.